Saturday, July 9, 2011

Unusual Artifacts: A Telegram Announcing the Engagement of Mary of Teck and George, Duke of York, 1893

From Princess Mary Adelaide to
Prince Adolphus of Teck
May 4, 1893
The Royal Collection
As we can see from the history below, the engagement of Prince George and Princess May was not the original plan, but an excellent solution to a national problem. It was also, ultimately, a genuinely happy event.

In his diary for May 3, 1893, the Duke of York (Prince George of Wales, later King George V) wrote that after he proposed to “Princess May” in the garden of East Sheen Lodge “the darling girl consented to be my wife.”

Mary was happy, George was happy, the Duke of Teck was happy, Queen Victoria was happy, but no one was quite as thrilled as the bride-to-be’s mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck. The minute that “Fat Mary” heard of the engagement, she, set about telegraphing everyone she could think of. She sent this telegram to her son Prince Adolphus (later the Marquis of Cambridge).

It says: 7 Last Night. East Sheen. Mary engaged to George. They send best. Love, Mummy.

Saturday Sparkle: The Queen Adelaide Bracelet, 1835

Queen Adelaide
Diamonds, Gold, Enmael, Ivory, Watercolor
"Purchased" by Queen Mary
Presented to Albert, Duke of York,
later King George VI
The Royal Collection
Mary of Teck, as Queen of England, made it a goal to ensure that all pieces of Royal art and jewelry which had someone wandered out of the possession of the Royal Family were returned to the Royal Collection for posterity. She was quite successful at it.

As Queen, Mary had an interest in those Queens and Queen Consorts who had passed before her. I’m sure she was quite thrilled to come across this bracelet made in 1835 which features a portrait of Queen Adelaide, consort of Queen Victoria’s predecessor and uncle, King William IV.

The portrait is watercolor on ivory; set in a Tudor rose diamond brooch. This brooch was later converted into a blue and gold enamel bracelet, decorated with shamrocks, roses and thistles—floral symbols of the Empire.

Theoretically, the bracelet was purchased by Queen Mary from Adolphus, Marquess of Cambridge (her brother's wife), in March 1919. She made a gift of the bracelet to Prince Albert (“Bertie”), Duke of York, later King George VI, who, I’m fairly certain, gave it to his daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II.

The Art of Play: The Gair Wilkinson Monkey Puppet, 1928

This and all
related images:
The Victoria &
Albert Museum
This little wooden simian is quite realistic and beautifully carved. This marionette is easy to operate due to its flawless construction and remarkably light weight. This is the work of artist Arthur Wilkinson (1882-1957) who was inspired to make puppets after becoming enchanted by a group of toy Italian puppets in 1914.
This new passion led to Wilkinson becoming a professional puppeteer, subsequently touring England in a caravan with his brother, Walter. Walter Wilkinson, later, independently, spear-headed a revival of glove puppetry in Britain, while Arthur Wilkinson continued with his marionettes.

Feeling much the way that I do about puppetry in the present-day U.S., Arthur Wilkinson was distressed that puppetry had been neglected in England in the 1920s. His answer to this was to introduce The Marionette Society which was dedicated to producing marionette theatre throughout England.

The inaugural performance of his new Marionette Society was at the Poetry Bookshop in London in November 1923. During the performance he employed his own figures including Harlequin, Columbine, the dragon and Pantaloon. Later, around 1928, he carved an impressive set of marionettes and introduced them into the show. This set includes this monkey and Marino, Pagliacci and Pimpinella, and different figures of Harlequin and Columbine.

This figure is referred to as the Gair Wilkinson monkey because after Arthur Wilkinson married Lily Gair his show became known as the “Gair Wilkinson Marionettes.” Later Arthur used the professional name Gair Wilkinson as his own moniker.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 290

Charles’ fingernails dug into the flesh of his palms as he crouched behind the crates which were stacked along the docks. He watched as Barbara was carried off, and followed as closely as he could without being detected by the dark-skinned brute.

He did, however, make sure that Barbara saw him as she helplessly looked over the man’s shoulder. He put his fingers to his lips and nodded. She returned his nod and knew that he would follow.

Given the size of the man, Charles knew that he had no chance of overtaking him. Having been in his fair share of fights—mostly due to his desire to defend his family’s honor after his brother had been accused of yet another atrocity—he knew his own limitations and weaknesses. What he lacked in stature and physical power was a cunning that was not inherent in most people given to scrapping. And, so, he used that advantage as best he could.

Knowing that Charles was near, Barbara began to struggle less. She’d grown quite cold and lethargic—her wet clothes still sticking to her body—and she was feeling weak. Had she not seen Charles, she’s probably have given up her futile attempts to be released from the grasp of Louis Glapion.

She always knew, deep down, that she’d never escape the alliances she’d made in New Orleans. If she wasn’t haunted by her marriage to Arthur, she’d certainly always be in the grasp of both Marie Laveau and Iolanthe Evangeline. And, speaking of Arthur, what had become of him after the deception he suffered at the hands of Ulrika Rittenhouse and his rejection by the Duke of Fallbridge and Dr. Halifax.

Let’s leave Barbara, her captor and her shadow for a moment to journey back to the Garden District where Arthur and Gerard were rethinking their futures.

The two men—men who had joined together out of necessity after a fierce introduction—sat together quite intimately in the chilling darkness, their only cover, the lingering mist which seemed to have blanketed all of New Orleans.

“What we gonna do now, Artie?” Gerard asked.

“Hell if I know.” Arthur said raspily.

“Ain’t got nowhere to go.” Gerard mumbled. “We got any money left?”

“Not much.” Arthur shook his head.

“Your wife wasn’t much help, were she?”

“Shut your gob.” Arthur coughed.

“I’m only statin’ the God’s truth.” Gerard shrugged. “She don’t like you much. Seems like no one likes you much, Artie. The Duke don’t like you. His companion sure don’t like you. That Ulrika bitch, she don’t like ya either. Think you’ll go back into service, then?”

“Never.” Arthur said, coughing again. He shivered.

“Well, then. Back to sea for us?”

“No.” Arthur growled.

“All we got is a lump of blue glass and you in your nice suit of clothes.” Gerard continued. “Can’t go too far on that.”

“Can’t we?” Arthur said, standing up from the low stone wall upon which they sat.

“What you mean?”

“Well, if I was fooled by this hunk of glass, surely someone else will be.”

“Get off it, Artie,” Gerard shook his head. “Folk with money enough to buy somethin’ like that know the difference between glass and a real diamond. Look at what the Duke said, right. He knew right off that it were a fake.”

“Well, what if we don’t sell it to one of them noble folks. What if we offer it to someone what don’t know better.”

“But, they ain’t got money for such things.” Gerard argued.

“No, I ‘spose not.” Arthur said, bending over as he body was racked with a fit of coughing. He spat, and droplets of blood landed on the banquette.

“Here, you’re bleedin’, mate!” Gerard gasped as he rose and backed away.

“Ain’t nothin’.” Arthur rasped.

“Sure it is. It’s the ‘Yellow Jack!’” Gerard replied covering his face with his sleeve.

“You don’t think?” Arthur said, becoming alarmed.

“I do.” Gerard replied. “Listen, mate, it’s been nice, but I gotta…”

“You can’t leave me!” Arthur coughed.

“Sure, I can.” Gerard shrugged. “Listen, if no one else likes you, I don’t see why I gotta.”

“You’re all I’ve got!” Arthur exclaimed, reaching for his friend.

“Not no more, mate.” Gerard shook his head, continuing to back away.

At that very moment, Arthur wasn’t the only soul in distress—if you could say that Arthur had a soul. Mr. Punch, or Julian to be more precise, had souls to spare, or at the very least—personalities.

Though Julian’s body was once again breathing, he remained unconscious—much to the alarm of Robert, Adrienne and Marjani who watched over him in the flat above the Routhe’s dress shop. Robert wondered what was transpiring within the body of his beloved friend and cursed the fact that he had no way of knowing.

Still, it was probably for the best that he was unaware. Mr. Punch was in a terrible state having vanquished Guignol and Jack Ketch, he was quite alone inside that body, and not sure what had become of Julian.

Then, Punch recalled the key that had been given him by the spirit of Naasir—that key which had unlocked the memories that Punch had long tried to keep hidden from Julian, those memories which still had yet to be fully realized.

Punch held out his hand and concentrated. They key appeared in his surprisingly supple wooden palm.

Punch grinned as he looked around the room. He glanced at the imaginary mantelpiece with its massive slate clock and noticed that the key he held was no longer the key to a door latch, but rather the kind of key one uses to wind a clock.

Opening the clock face, Punch inserted the key and began to wind the clock in the manner in which he’d known Julian to do it hundreds of times before.

Instead of the usual sound of a clock being wound, Punch heard the scraping of stone against wood, and stood back as the mantel rose to reveal a blackened corridor.

“There’s more in here than I ever knew,” Punch muttered, taking a deep breath and heading into the darkness.

Did you miss Chapters 1-289? If so, you can read them here. Come back on Monday, July 11 for Chapter 291 of Punch’s Cousin.

Card of the Day: The Gathering of Chiefs at Nairobi, Kenya Colony

After the Great War, the King and Queen wanted to make sure that areas of the Commonwealth that had received little attention during the war were looked after properly. However, King George V’s declining health prevented him from making extended journeys abroad. He often sent his sons to stand in for him.

The thirty-second card in the 1935 Silver Jubilee series by Wills’s Cigarette Co. depicts a scene of the Prince of Wales (later, briefly, King Edward VIII, subsequently the Duke of Windsor) and his younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester on such a journey to British East Africa.

The reverse of the card reads:


The autumn of 1928, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Gloucester spent in East Africa, and October 2nd, a great gathering of Chiefs was held at Nairobi to enable the head men and counselors of the tribes in British East Africa to express their common loyalty. The chiefs of twenty-seven tribes approached the dais on which the two Princes stood, and after saluting—some in military fashion, some bowing, some touching their foreheads—shook hands with the Prince of Wales. He presented each one with a sheathed hunting knife attached to a leather belt, the Chiefs returning their thanks and swearing fealty to the King-Emperor.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Prince Albert Victor Receiving the Freedom of City of London, 1885

Prince Albert Victor
Duke of Clarence and Avondale
George Gammon Adams
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Prince Albert Victor of Wales, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale and eldest son of the Princes of Wales and Princess Alexandra, wasn’t really to motivated by anything except a desire to be comfortable and have a nice rest. Still, he was the heir presumptive and he was said to have been infinitely charming.

Here, we see a roundel featuring the Prince. This was a model designed for the obverse of a medal—the work of George Gammon Adams, about 1885. It commemorates the event of Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence receiving the Freedom of City of London at a ceremony in the Guildhall on 29th June. This traditional ceremony is still in practice today and has been an important presentation since 1237. Basically, it’s an honorary ceremony which grants the recipient the right to be a “freeman.” The medieval term 'freeman' ostensibly meant one who was not the property of a feudal lord, and therefore, was allowed to enjoy privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. According to the official City of London rules, “Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free - hence the term 'freedom of the City'.” As part of the ceremony, all freemen receive the book of “Rules for the Conduct of Life,” which was written by the Lord Mayor in 1737.

It’s basically meaningless, but a nice honor, I suppose, rather like getting the key to the city.

The artist, George Gammon Adams (1821-1898) was a portrait sculptor and medallist who designed and exhibited prize medals for Prince Albert’s baby, the Great Exhibition of 1851. Adams’ work was so appreciated that in 1852 he was chosen to model the death mask of Wellington—rather a big deal. Several important monuments by the artist still stand in London.

A Royal Anniversary: The Wedding of George V and Mary of Teck

Princess Victoria Mary of Teck
Known as Princess May
Later Queen Mary
The Royal Collection
I’m three days late with this—having confused the 6th for the 9th, but the sentiment is still there.

On July 6, 1893, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck married George, the Duke of York (later King George V) at the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace. The morning of the wedding, the Duke of York spied Princess May, as she was called by her family, across a long corridor in Buckingham Palace as she was preparing for the wedding. In what could have been an awkward moment—a heralding of bad luck—the Prince smiled, and offered, “a low and courtly bow,” to his future wife. The future Queen Mary never forgot this gesture, noting later that it was at this moment that she knew that she had made the right decision in accepting is proposal of marriage. She would don her elaborate wedding gown of silver brocade, trimmed in white, and jewels and, offering her famous side-ways smile to the gathered crowds of well-wishers, joined her groom as the consort of the new heir presumptive to the throne.

Princes Albert Victor and George of Wales
Carl Rudolph Sohn
The Royal Collection
This, however, was not the wedding that was originally meant to be. Princess May was previously engaged to George’s elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. The Prince, known as “Eddy” to his family, was quite the opposite to his more staid brother. Eddy was listless and not terribly ambitious, but possessed of a remarkably winning charm. Queen Victoria, fearful that the apathetic heir presumptive would make a mess of his life, was adamant that he should make a smart marriage (and not a morganatic one to a woman beneath his position) and studied the possible candidates for his bride. Of the Prince’s cousins, the only clear choice was Princess Victoria Mary, the daughter of Princess Mary Adelaide (on the Cambridge side of the Royal Family) and the slightly off-kilter Duke of Teck.

Prince Albert Victor of Wales
Duke of Clarence and Avondale
Known as "Eddy"
The Royal Collection
 Victoria worried that her grandson—who was given to enormous waves of passion for a variety of London ladies—would not be keen on marrying his reserved and dignified cousin May, and was happily surprised when, upon the suggestion, he immediately fell in love with May. May accepted his proposal, and joined the Cambridge clan in London (accompanied by her stout mother and muttering father), enjoying the many celebrations in honor of the couple. Though it was not a love-match on Mary’s side, she had a fondness for her cousin and thought him very “dear.” May was no fool and realized that the marriage put her in the position of being the future Queen Consort, and rather liked the idea—devoted as she was to her country and people.

During the nationwide celebration, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale and May made many journeys in inclement weather. They didn’t worry much about the widespread outbreak of influenza that had gripped England. After all, it was Prince George who was the sickly one. Albert Victor was hale and hearty. Still, “Eddy” contracted a slight head cold that quickly became a massive infection. Over a period of six days, he declined rapidly as fever and illness possessed his body.

Alexandra, Princess of Wales
with her Children
(Later Queen Alexandra)
The Royal Collection
The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), the Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra, the much-beloved and beautiful woman who captivated the hearts of the nation) gathered with Princess May (and her parents) at the bedside of the ailing heir presumptive. Young Prince George knelt at the side of his brothers bed and wept. Princess Alexandra, ever brave, turned to the attending doctor and asked in a clear voice (here, I should note that Alexandra was stone deaf and her lovely voice was a testament to her strength), “Can nothing be done for him?” The physician sadly shook his head.

With a few rattling breaths, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale—dear “Eddy”—rattled out his last few breaths and died.

All of England was distraught at this tragedy, and turned their sympathies to his intended as Princess May—in a daze—mourned not only the passing of her future husband, but, seemingly, her chances of becoming Queen.

An informal song was soon on the lips of people throughout London.

Alas his soul, it has departed
How solemn came the news,
His parents broken-hearted,
Their darling son to lose.
With sympathy and feeling,
We one and all should say,
God rest his soul in silence,
And bless the Princess May.

With love and true devotion,
They watched by his bed side,
But all was gloom and sadness,
The moment that he died,
He closed his eyes forever,
They kissed his pallid cheek,
In breathless tones his mother said,
“O speak, my darling speak.”

A nation wrapped in mourning,
Shed bitter tears today,
For the noble Duke of Clarence
And fair young Princess May.

Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
with the Family of the Duke and Duchess of Teck
upon the engagement of their daughter.
Standing, left to right: Prince Adolfus of Teck;
the Duchess of Teck (Princess Mary Adelaide);
Prince Francis of Teck.
Seated, left to right: Albert Victor Duke of Clarence and Avondale;
Princess Victoria Mary of Teck; the Duke of Teck.
December, 1891
The Royal Collection
Immediately upon the death of Prince “Eddy,” Mary’s father, the Duke of Teck—who following his stroke several years earlier was often given over to fits of madness—began pacing the halls of the palace saying one single sentence over and over. “It must be a Tsarevitch. It must be a Tsarevitch. It must be a Tsarevitch.” Now, what could the Duke of Teck have meant by that odd phrase? Above all else, His Grace was concerned with one thing—status. Even before his stroke, the Duke of Teck was always preoccupied with his position and the rank of his family. His wife, Princess Mary Adelaide—a granddaughter of King George III (and though never in line for the throne since she was the daughter of one of George III’s daughters and cousin to the Queen, was not only a Princess, but also the Duchess of Cambridge. When they married, he was always reminded that their marriage was morganatic (meaning that a woman of higher birth had married beneath her). Because of what he perceived as a massive slight, the Duke always wished that his children would make suitable marriages that would elevate them to the status he felt they deserved. And, so, upon Eddy’s death, the Duke of Teck was more concerned that “May” was missing her chance to become the future Queen.

Tsar Alexander
The Royal Collection
The Duke of Teck’s mad rambling following the Prince’s death referred to his in-law’s the Cambridges. The Princess of Wales (previously a Princess of Denmark) had a sister, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, who, like May, had been engaged to the heir presumptive who, also, had died before their marriage, preventing her from becoming the Empress of Russia. However, the Russian Royal Family had quickly engaged the grieving Dagmar to the deceased Tsarevitch’s brother, Alexander—the new heir presumptive, and they joined in what would be a very successful union as Emperor and Empress of Russia.

In his own weird way, the Duke was suggesting such an arrangement for Mary. With the passing of Prince Albert Victor, Prince George was the new heir presumptive to the British throne. He was unmarried and needed a strong woman to guide him. Why not engage Mary to George?

Mary would not hear of it.

At the funeral for Prince Albert Victor, many noted that the most touching moment was when Princess May handed her marriage wreath of orange blossoms to her father who in turn presented it to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) who, with Princess Alexandra, placed it upon the casket.

Mary of Teck's Mother
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge,
Duchess of Teck
The Royal Collection
Mary’s long and painful period of mourning began. To distract the girl, her parents--especially her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide--forced her to travel and regain her strength. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria had had the same thought as the Duke of Teck—though in a much less embarrassing and public way. Victoria orchestrated a journey for Prince George which would casually force him to be in the same places at the same times as Princess May.

The Princess was still bereft. On what was to have been her wedding day, despite the attempts of her family to distract her, she wrote in her diary:

27 February

Chilly, damp day. This day is a very sad one for me for it was to have been our wedding day. ‘Es wär zu schön gewesen, es hat nicht sollen sein…'

Fifty-five years later, under this entry, Queen Mary wrote again in the same journal:

I read this diary again in 1947, when I was 80, and felt compelled to add that the kind ‘Uncle Wales’ [The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII] & ‘Motherdear’ [her affectionate nickname for the Princess of Wales, alter Queen Alexandra] gave me a beautiful rivière of diamonds which they had destined for me as a wedding present, as well as a lovely dressing bag, which darling Eddy had ordered for me as a wedding gift. I remember I felt overcome by this kind thought.

The Duke and Duchess of York on their
Wedding Day, 1893
(later Queen Mary and King George V)
Still, George was ever-present. The two—who had known one another all of their lives as cousins—developed a close friendship, bonding over their shared grief. George mourned the loss of his beloved elder brother deeply—calling him, “my dear, lovely boy.” Soon, Mary began to develop feelings for George that she had not felt for Albert Victor. While she was fond of “Eddy” and enjoyed his company, she admitted that she didn’t feel romantic love for him. This, she felt for George. And, though she resisted at first, she did accept his proposal of marriage in 1892—much to the relief of the Queen and much to the joy of the British people.

Their marriage was a success and the two remained devoted to one another—enduring much hardship, war and chaos as King and Queen of England.

So, here’s wishing King George V and Queen Mary a belated and posthumous happy 118th anniversary.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mastery of Design: An Impressive Reversible Mosaic Necklace, 1850

Uppermost Face
Micromosaic Glass, Gold, Silver, Copper
Italian, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This impressive parure, consisting of a necklace, bracelet and earrings, truly is the definition of “mastery of design.” It has the unusual property of being reversible, per each individual section. Each of the micromosaic panels is double-sided. The wearer had the option of displaying scenes of monuments of Rome or images of figures in regional costume, or a combination of the two.

Each panel is comprised of the smallest glass pieces--containing more than 5000 pieces per square inch. The panels are set in silver held together by gold links and backed in a copper alloy. The work of an unknown jeweler, this magnificent suite is surely from Rome.


The Suite

Mr. Punch in the Arts: A Mr. Punch Scrap, 1890

German, 1890
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Scraps were quite the popular thing in the Victorian era. Scraps were simply that—pieces of paper upon which images were printed. At first, scraps were printed in black and white, and, later, colored by hand. Later, scraps were printed in color.
Scraps were used for a variety of purposes—purely decorative. They were often glued onto albums or cards, but their main use was in the art of decoupage. Multiple scraps were glue to an object to make a pattern which was then varnished over. This was often employed in the making of elaborate and colorful folding screens for the home.

Here, we see a scrap of Mr. Punch looking quite cute if not a little distorted. This scrap is the work of a German printing company, Siegmund Hildesheimer & Co., and dates to 1890. Still brilliantly colored, this scrap was a gift to the V&A from the Britih Theatre Museum Association.

Antique Image of the Day: Queen Victoria and the Princess Royal, 1845

Queen Victoria and
The Princess Royal
The Royal Colelction
This is the earliest known photograph of Queen Victoria. The Queen was an avid fan of photography, even going as far as staging a recreation of her wedding day so that it might be photographed.

Here, we see a young Queen Victoria with her first child and daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal who was known to the family as “Vicky.” At the age of seventeen, Vicky was wed to Prince William Frederick of Prussia. She was later the Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia.

Queen Victoria had a great affection for her eldest daughter, making sure that she was created Princess Royal, a title often bestowed upon the eldest daughter of a Royal family. Victoria praised her child’s curiosity and intelligence—two traits which were not demonstrated in Victoria’s eldest son, the heir presumptive, Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII).

Friday Fun: An Interview with Bryan Clarke

Professor Jingles
Bryan Clarke
I know that I posted this video clip of Bryan Clarke, the esteemed Professor, about a year ago. In fact, it was the very first Punch & Judy related clip I ever posted. When I first saw this video, I was new to the world of Punch & Judy and didn’t fully realize how much meaning this clip would have to my life.

This week, I had the extreme pleasure of actually talking on the phone with the famous Professor Jingles, Bryan Clarke. Mr. Clarke is one of the greatest Punch & Judy men in the world (and one of a handful of people in the world who still makes proper Punch & Judy puppets), and you’ll see in this video a chronicle of his amazing and impressive career. I’m quite fortunate to be receiving one of Mr. Clarke’s beautiful Mr. Punch figures—made by the master himself. When I receive my new puppet, no doubt, you’ll be hearing quite a lot about it because I’m excited beyond words. I will try not to be obnoxious about it. But, it’s pretty darn exciting!

Enjoy this interview with Mr. Clarke. It’s a thrill to see the master at work!

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 289

Charles paused, clutching his side where a sharp pain had gripped him as he ran. He cursed the cold, thick air and tried to catch his breath. Perspiration clung to his face like a chilled, wet blanket.
Straightening up, he once again began to walk briskly through the streets of the French Quarter, looking desperately for any sign of the woman who had taken the baby from Adrienne.

As he searched, his mind raced with myriad thoughts. The face of his brother, Giovanni, flashed before his eyes repeatedly. Though the man was a butcher, a thief and a rogue, he was still Charles’ brother. The agony with which Robert had announced that he’d wounded Giovanni haunted Charles. He couldn’t decipher he was feeling guilt over the turn of events or fear that Giovanni was not dead, but rather lurking somewhere and waiting to exact his revenge.

Charles thought, also, of Barbara Allen. Their acquaintance had been brief, but he felt something for her that he’d never felt for another person. Certainly, she was beautiful and refined. But, still, there was more to it than just physical attraction. He was drawn to her strength and determination. What would his mother have said of such a union? Not only was Barbara married, but she was a soiled dove who had born a child out of wedlock and who sold her body to men for their pleasure. She had denounced her family, betrayed her country and stolen from the very people who only wished to help her. Was she not unlike Giovanni? However, she, unlike Charles’ brother, was eager to admit her sins and made no mistake about her knowledge of what she’d done. Certainly that was enviable. Yet, it didn’t erase to enormity of her crimes.

Charles thought, too, of Mr. Punch. The poor man—simple in his own way. Yet, he wasn’t the fool that most people took him for. Of course, Charles thought, Mr. Punch isn’t a man at all, but rather a voice and a manner affected (whether by choice or not) by the Duke of Fallbridge—another poor soul, but also possessed of a keen loyalty and affection which also inspired the same from others. A man such as Robert Halifax would not have been so devoted to a soul that was utterly devoid of sense. Nor, in fact would Charles himself, he considered. For, truly, he did feel a special loyalty to the Duke with his bifurcated personality and unusual ways.

If only, Charles wondered, if only he could find the missing child—snatch it from the grip of the woman who had stolen him and return him to the Duke of Fallbridge. Then, Charles considered as he walked into the mist, Dr. Halifax and the Duke could return to England with the boy. Surely they’d take their dedicated staff. Yes? Surely, they’d take Marjani and Gamilla and, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Halifax with them. And, Barbara. Would the Duke allow the child’s true mother to be a part of the boy’s life? If so, would he wish to take Charles? Once again in England, perhaps Barbara would be restored and her sins would melt away. Perhaps, they could be together—not as a Lady and a footman, not as a whore and a servant, but simply as two people united in making a life.

How could he think such things, he wondered. How could he dare to think?

Something caught Charles eye as he approached the river. A woman was being carried—struggling—by a dark-skinned man. “Damn this city,” Charles said aloud as he shuddered at the thought. He winced as he considered what he’d do if he found Barbara Allen in such a situation. He clenched his jaw and knew he’d kill the man for Barbara’s honor—such as it was.

And, then, as the couple grew closer, Charles saw the face of the wriggling woman and realized that it was, in fact, Barbara.

Charles’ hands curled into fists as he sprung forward.

Meanwhile, Mr. Punch—still within the body he shared with Julian, the Duke of Fallbridge, paced inside of the phantom room in front of his new acquaintance, Guignol.

“You’re ill-at-ease.” Guignol demurred.

“You think so, do you?” Punch spat. “Well, how should I feel, then? Should I be pleased as…well, pleased as me…to know that me master’s got others of us in him what’s takin’ up space and usin’ up the thoughts?”

“There’s no limit to the amount of thoughts that a man can produce. It’s not as though we need to ration them. We’re all capable of our own thoughts without sapping the Duke’s strength. If it were otherwise, would Scaramouche or Mr. Ketch or even I have been able to have dwelled amongst you undetected for all this time?”

“I don’t know, I don’t.” Punch frowned. “How many more of us are there?”

“How many emotions does one man have?” Guignol shrugged.

Punch screeched and waved his hands in the air in frustration. “Again with the questions! I’m askin’ the questions. You’re answerin’! Here, you’re supposed to be the rational one, ain’t ya? Is that what you consider steady and thoughtful? Is that how a body is sensible? By not answerin’ questions, only askin’ em?”

“How else are we to think if not by asking questions. So few questions have one answer that it definite. Most questions desire further investigation and that passion can only be quenched by exploring them further.”

Punch sighed. “I don’t like you.”

“I didn’t expect that you would.” Guignol smiled. “Nor is it necessary that you do.”

“How many of us are there?” Punch repeated slowly and pointedly.

“The number is variable.” Guignol shook his head thoughtfully. “We come when needed. Just as you were seemingly unaware of my presence, perhaps I am unaware of the existence of others. Perhaps others have not been born yet, and perhaps others have died before my creation and they’re just waiting to be resurrected.”

“See this.” Punch asked, pointing to his curving cap.

“I do.” Guignol nodded.

“What color is it?” Punch smirked.

“Red.” Guignol replied.

“See, there’s a question with one answer.”

“Is it?” Guignol grinned. “How many names have you in your language for red? How many in mine? How do we know it’s red? A blind man would not know.”

“You are…” Punch began ferociously. “You’re just. Oh! I don’t know. You’re infuriating, you are. I hate you.”

“Then, if you hate me, Mr. Punch, make me go away. But, if you do, there will be a severe price to pay.”

“I’ll take me chances.” Punch grumbled.

“Is that advisable?” Guignol asked. “If I’m gone, will another less desirable force take my place? We must continue to think of the consequences.”

“Listen to me, you long-haired Frenchman,” Punch snapped. “I want to know where me master is. I want you out of here and I want you to take Scaramouche and Jack Ketch with you. Me master and I were doin’ fine when it was just the two of us what were sharin’ the body.”

“Was it ever just the two of you?” Guignol asked.

“Sure it were!” Punch growled.

“Let’s consider for a moment what that would be. Should His Grace’s mind be restored what have you? Anxiety. With just the two of you, what have you? Anxiety and bravado? Is that a wise marriage?”

“Be gone!” Punch screamed.

And, as instructed, Guignol disappeared.

Punch nodded and looked around, then, he began to panic. “Wait!” Punch called out. “Guignol! Where’s me master?”

Did you miss Chapters 1-288? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The King at Twickenham

Uh oh. More sports stuff. While Queen Mary wasn’t too keen on sporting events, King George V did enjoy watching a good football or rugby match. Especially after the Great War, the King was eager to support events and activities which served to bolster national morale. Chief among those events were sporting matches which brought people from all over Britain together.
The thirty-first in the Silver Jubilee series of cigarette cards produced by Wills’s Cigarette Company in 1935 shows King George V at a rugby match at Twickenham.

The reverse of the card reads:


Few public appearances can give the King warmer pleasure than his visits to Twickenham for Rugby Football matches, for he possesses a knowledge of the Rugby Union game which, by its minuteness and exhaustiveness has astonished many a famous player. His Majesty is seen on the field greeting the English Fifteen that met Scotland on March 15, 1928. The match which was won by England by six points to none was memorable as a battle between two splendid packs, and Scotland were unlucky to never cross the line. By this victory, England retrieved the Calcutta Cup and gained the International Championship.

I guess England won. As for the rest, who knows? But, here’s a picture—a tiny, little picture from that 1928 match. Again, who knows?

Object of the Day: Mr. Punch’s Dog, Toby, Radiator Cap

We’ve discussed Toby before. Many times, in fact. Toby is Mr. Punch’s dog and remains a part of the puppet show to this day. Originally, Toby was portrayed in the show by a real terrier who was replaced with a puppet version because, well, terriers don’t enjoy being a part of a puppet show. Within the world of Punch & Judy, Toby starts out as Mr. Scaramouche’s dog, but finds an affinity for Mr. Punch upon realizing that the latter is in possession of sausages. Sure, they’re made out of a baby, but Toby doesn’t care. He’s not picky. Though Toby bites Mr. Punch’s nose (“Oh, my beautiful nose. My handsome nose!” Punch cries out), the two strike up a friendship. This relationship between Punch and Toby, historically, is enduring and dear Punch is often depicted with his terrier friend showing that the slap-sticking fiend has a soft and domestic side, after all. As befits a dog in the company of Mr. Punch, Toby wears a ruff (often gold to match Mr. Punch’s costume, but, in the Victorian era, usually a nice robin’s egg blue) and matching tam.

Toby has an art historical life of his own—separate from Mr. Punch. Toby has been the figural subject for many objects ranging from jugs (Tobies) to match strikers/holders. And, as we can see here, he also makes a fine hood ornament/radiator cap.

I’m not sure to when this exactly dates, but this hood ornament, I’d guess is from the late 1920’s to early 1930’s. He’s made of bronze. The figure shows Toby seated squarely on a turned plinth. Being a radiator cap, he’s fitted with a hollow from the base through his nose, so that when steam escapes, it puffs from his nose. I’m sure Punch would approve.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gratuitous Bertie Dog Picture: What’s in a Name?

“So, you named those dogs after yourself, huh, fancy pants?”*

Image: Charles II and Nell Gwyn, Edward Matthew (E.M.) Ward, RA, 1854, The Victoria and Albert Museum

*(The dogs are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels)

Gifts of Grandeur: The Castellani Pendant: 1860-1900

Castellani, Rome
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Designed to be worn as both a brooch and a pendant, this piece is a triumph of gold, pearls, sapphires, rubies and enamel. Designed in the Renaissance Revival made by the Roman firm of Castellani, this pendant was intended for export to England. The maker, Castellani, was celebrated for its jewelry designs which had been inspired by archaeological gold-work.
While it is clearly inspired by European jewelry of the 1600s, it’s important to note that this he brooch-pendant is not a direct copy. This is one of several versions of a similar design by Castellani-- three of which accompany this piece in the V&A.

This piece was a gift to the museum from The American Friends of the V&A.

Precious Time: An Italian Porcelain Clock, 1770

Porcelain Clockcase
Doccia Porcelain Factory, 1770
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Though it features a newer movement of Victorian origin, this clock case was made in Italy by the Doccia Porcelain Factory in 1770. The complicated figural group remains bright white, though some examples have been painted in polychrome. Here, upon a matching pedestal, four dolphins support the case which is surmounted by an allegorical group.
Two female figures flank the clock face, upon which sits a winged man—representing time. The clock face is surrounded by a wreath of olive branches.

Mastery of Design: A Hellenistic Gold, Emerald and Garnet Necklace, 200 B.C.-100 B.C.

Gold, Emeralds, Garnets, Glass
Greek, 200-100 B.C.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
In Greece, during the Hellenistic period (323-27 BC), all of the arts thrived and artists of every conceivable medium began to examine the relationships between different colors. Even Hellenistic jewelers had become fascinated with the concept of color and began to play with different combinations of gold and gemstones.
During this period, garnets were the most popular gemstone—prized for their deep, wine color. Garnets were often combined with emeralds, carnelian, rock crystal, agates, onyxes or lapis-lazuli to great effect. While the gems were not faceted in the manner of more modern gem cuts, they were often elaborately carved, pierced, and polished. Jewelers even began to toy with the idea of using colored glass to simulate the look of costlier stones. In this necklace, for example, glass was used to imitate onyx and pearl.

The fashion of the day dictated that necklaces should be worn tight around the neck like a modern-day choker. This magnificent necklace of gold, polished garnets and emeralds, originally featured a ribbon at the back to allow the wearer to fasten it snugly against her throat. Necklaces such as this were meant to be worn with others, rising high upon the neck. Usually, the central piece was ornate, as is the case of this one, augmented by tight strings of beads in matching colors.

Punch’s Cousin, Chapter 288

Let me go,” Barbara hissed, beginning to struggle in Louis Glapion’s arms.

“You done tol’ me ya didn’t care what I done with ya.” Louis laughed.

“That was before I knew you were bringing me to Marie Laveau!”

“What you got ‘gainst my brother’s poor widow?” Louis asked, gripping Barbara tighter.

“I…” Barbara sputtered.

“You don’t believe all them things folk say of her?”

“Please, release me!” Barbara squealed.

“Come, Girl, ain’t fair judgin’ a woman you don’t even know.” Louis shook his head. “Maybe she can help you.”

“I don’t want Marie Laveau’s kind of help!”

“You know Marie?” Louis asked.

“Yes.” Barbara spat.

“Well, then, I’m sure she’ll be glad for ta see ya.” Louis smiled.

“I doubt that.” Barbara tried again to pull away.

“See, Girl, I got instincts. Keen instincts.” Louis said firmly. “I’ll bet ya that Marie’s gonna be right glad when I bring you home.”

Meanwhile, in the ethereal chamber within Julian’s body, Mr. Punch stood up and stared into the empty room. “Here, what’s that you said.”

“I am Guignol.” The heavily-accented voice responded plainly.

“Guignol? The French Mr. Punch?”

“Not exactly. We’re not the same. Guignol is his own man.” He responded.

“But, I don’t know you.” Punch frowned.

“Don’t you?” Guignol answered, still not present in form, but only in voice.

“Again with the questions.” Punch grunted. “What for?”

“Don’t you recall when you were on the ship?” Guignol asked. “You saw the Guignol man with his puppets and became excited. Then, you declared that Guignol was your cousin. You knew me then. Why not now?”

“But, that were just a puppet.” Punch scowled.

“And, isn’t that what we are?”

“No.” Punch said. “I’m a man, I am.”

“Are you?”

“If you don’t stop askin’ me questions, I’ll…”

“What?” Guignol asked. “Hit me with your stick.”

“Maybe.” Punch lowered his eyebrows. “If I could see ya.”

“Fine, then,” Guignol answered, suddenly appearing before Mr. Punch. “Here I am.”

Mr. Punch studied the newly formed figure. Guignol was lean, dressed in a long scarlet robe. A black, boxy hat sat atop his head—trimmed in gold, and behind him, a long queue of dark hair hung down. His face was round and pink with a small nose and almond-shaped eyes.

“You see me,” Guignol smiled. “Will you strike me now?”

“Don’t feel like it.” Punch grumbled. “But, I might later.”

“You do know me, then?” Guignol asked. “You know me and you trust me.”

“Why should I?” Punch growled.

“Because you know I wish you no harm. We are cousins, Mr. Punch. We are part of the same being. I’m here to serve you…to serve our master.”

“How come you’re here. Thought it was just me and me master. Thought I knew everything. I’m the keeper of secrets.”

“You are, Punch.” Guignol nodded. “You are the keeper of secrets. You know more than all of the rest of us combined. You are the powerful one. The name and the body are those of His Grace, but the world, Mr. Punch, is yours. Think of it. We each serve a purpose. Scaramouche is His Grace’s anger, resentment and greed. Jack Ketch is his guilt and his desire to punish himself. They’re just small parts of the whole. You, cher Punch, you are his spirit, his strength, his softness and love. You are his adventurousness and his bravery, his loyalty and his passion. You are the greatest part of him. Himself, His Grace, is fear and timidity. But, you, you are his joy and wonder.”

“What are you, then?”

“I’m his sense of practicality. I’m his ability to be rational.” Guignol replied. “I am the smallest part of all. I am the least used part, and the one that, until now, had remained untested. I am weak, Mr. Punch. But, perhaps, you can give me strength.”

“What? So you can be the strong one?” Punch asked.

“No. So His Grace can be the strong one.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-287? If so, you can read them here.

Card of the Day: The Funeral of Earl Haig

Though he’s now considered a rather controversial figure from the First World War, Douglas Haig, the First Earl Haig, was a popular postwar figure whose death elicited an enormous response in Britain and a national day of mourning. He’s remembered now as “The Butcher Haig” for leading troops into the Battle of the Somme the battle with the highest casualties in British military history. He did, however, also command the Hundred Days Offensive which led to the 1918 Armistice.

Upon his death in 1928, the “Times” reported, “Great crowds lined the streets ... come to do honour to the chief who had sent thousands to the last sacrifice when duty called for it, but whom his war-worn soldiers loved as their truest advocate and friend.”

This event is depicted in the thirtieth in the series of Silver Jubilee Cards by Wills’s Cigarette Company which were produced in honor of King George V and Queen Mary.

The reverse of the card reads:


Several Princes of the House of Windsor—the Royal house he served so well—followed Field Marshall Earl Haig on his last journey through London on February 2, 1928. After lying in state at St. Columba’s, The Presbyterian Church in Punt Street, the body of the dead Field Marshall was escorted to Bemersyde where, at his wish, in preference to interment at St. Paul’s, he rests in his native cemetery. Marshall Foch and Marshall Pétain were two of the pall bearers, and the crowds stood ten deep as the procession moved on to the beat of muffled drums. A solemn memorial service for the dead Field Marshall was held at Westminster Abbey.

After the Great War, Haig was created an Earl. He maintained close ties to the military. To get a glimpse of some silent film footage of the funeral, visit the Web site of British Pathé. I didn’t feel like paying £50 for the rights to the video, so I’ll just let you have a look at their site.

Object of the Day: A Sicilian Knight Puppet, circa 1978

The Norman Knights
The Italian people have a long tradition of theatrical puppetry. After all, our Mr. Punch was born in Italy as Pulcinella. Puppet shows are still an integral part of Italian culture, nowhere more so than in Sicily.

Traditional Sicilian puppets often depict historical characters. One of the most popular figures is that of a Norman Knight whose image is based on the story of Orlando (Roland), one of Charlemagne's knights, and the Norman knights of King Roger. This handsome figure is still being created by skilled puppet makers today.

And, here’s one. I’ve had this puppet most of my life. I don’t remember exactly what year I was given him, though I’m sure my mother and father do. I just know I was very small, and for my entire childhood, he was a fixture in my room. And, now, he’s back, after a decade and a half in my parent’s attic—none the worse for his incarceration.

I’ve always called him, “Siciliano,” because he came from Sicily—a gift from my grandmother. He’s quite large with a wooden head and limbs. He’s a rod puppet. A metal rod manipulates his right hand—in which he carries a sword. His left arm is operated by means of a string. Dressed in a fine cape, a plumed helmet over his sandy hair, and sturdy armor, he looks, today, almost exactly as he did over thirty years ago when I first received him.